Never Gets Old

Posted: July 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 10 Comments »

Something made me think about this yesterday. Such a great video.

David Akers is the best PK in Eagles history. Could he have also been the best LS? Funny to watch him out-do Dorenbos in that video. Great stuff.

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Fletcher Cox Perspective

Posted: July 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 32 Comments »

Fletcher Cox was the 12th overall pick in 2012. The Eagles drafted him to be the under-tackle in their 4-3. His job was to fly off the ball and create havoc in the opposing backfield. Cox had 5.5 sacks, 5 TFLs and a FF in his rookie campaign. He looked like he could be a star player.

And then came the 3-4.

Chip Kelly took over the Eagles and switched from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Making matters worse, he and Bill Davis went with a 2-gap system, meaning Cox could no longer attack off the ball. His job was to engage blockers, hold his ground, find the ball and then go after it. And all of that takes place in 1.5 to 2 seconds.

Cox was drafted to attack and make plays. His ability to penetrate and be disruptive is what made him a special talent. The change in systems had to be borderline torturous for Cox. This would be the equivalent of a writer going from Mad Magazine to The National Review.

As you would expect, things were kinda bumpy. Cox got off to a slow start. He did have 2 sacks in the first 3 games, but his run defense was sloppy and his overall play was inconsistent. Cox kept working on the new techniques and got better as the season went along. Chip Kelly really praised him after the second Skins game.

“What you’re seeing out of Fletcher is we’re just watching him grow,” Kelly said. “You forget that he’s still a really, really young player. Everybody on our d-line is a young player. I think he’s getting acclimated. For him, he’s getting a change in systems, a change in coaches, and really starting to grasp and what we’re asking him to do. But I think his performance and what he did on Sunday was outstanding. He’s starting to feel more comfortable in what we’re asking him to do, and our coaches are putting hin in better positions.”

Something interesting occurred to me the other day when doing some research. Cox came into the league at a very young age. He is just 23 years old right now. He’ll turn 24 in December. Reggie White was 23 when he played his first season for the Eagles, back in 1985. White also had a December birthday (the 13th for Fletch and the 19th for Reggie).

I’m not saying that Cox is going to be the next Reggie, but his best years are ahead of him. We really don’t know how good he will be. Reggie was lucky that he got to play in systems that fit his skills. That helped him to maximize his talents. Cox isn’t as lucky, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be an impact player.

Here are a couple of great videos from PE.com on Cox and that Skins game.

Progress report

Kelly on 2-gapping

Cox is a really gifted athlete who can still be a special player. One thing that will help him is continuity. He played in one system in 2011 (college), another in 2012 as a rookie and a completely new one in 2013. This is the first time in a while he’s had the same coaches and the same system. That should help Cox to hone his technique and become better from a technical standpoint. He has all the natural ability in the world.

If the coaches can get Cox to marry up his natural ability and his technical skills, he could become a dominant DL. That doesn’t mean it will happen right away, if at all. You have to be patient with players who are in the 2-gap 3-4. It just isn’t natural to read plays. Big guys want to fly off the ball and attack. It takes time for them to really build up 2-gap skills.

I also think part of that transition is dealing with their instincts. You can’t just “see ball, get ball”. There is a certain way things have to be done.

If Cox can take a big step forward this year, that would help the defense in a huge way.

* * * * *

Geoff Mosher wrote about the Eagles young DL this week. You can tell that Thornton, Cox and Logan have a bit of a chip on their shoulders after the playoff loss to the Saints. Those guys took a lot of blame, some of it warranted, but they remain confident in themselves and each other.

There is no shame in losing to the Saints and getting run on wasn’t all the fault of the DL. Those guys should be confident. They showed a lot of potential and could become a very good trio of players this season.

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Shady Love

Posted: July 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 30 Comments »

I don’t know if Shady is going to play at this level for one more year, two more years or five more years, but he is one special player. Just sit back and enjoy the best of Shady from last year. Amazing stuff.

One side note…I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching the snow game. So friggin’ cool.


The Most Important July 4th Post of All Time

Posted: July 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 29 Comments »

Okay, I lied.

Rather than try to mix in the Eagles and July 4th with some kind of “Chip Kelly is Thomas Jefferson, Bill Davis is John Adams and Dave Fipp is Crazy Eyes Madison”, I am going to ignore the 4th and just write some really random stuff.

* It is a good thing Fred Barnett was from Arkansas. Arkansas Fred was a very cool nickname. North Dakota Fred would have been pretty weird. And Canada? Can you imagine Manitoba Fred or Quebec Fred? Definitely not cool.

* Imagine it is January 2011. I tell you the Eagles starting QB would post the 3rd highest QB rating in NFL history and his backups would be Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez. Barkley was coming off his Sophomore season at USC where he threw 26 TDs. Sanchez had just led the Jets to an 11-5 record and their 2nd consecutive AFC title game. Life would seem pretty frickin’ amazing, huh? How quickly things change.

* Jon Runyan and Sheldon Brown combined to miss a grand total of 0 games in their Eagles careers. None. That kind of durability is nothing short of amazing.

* Do you remember the flare gun incident from 1997? Insane.

* Freddie Mitchell finished his career with a grand total of 5 TD catches. LS/TE Mike Bartrum had 6.

* Correll Buckhalter had an interesting, amazing career. He was in the league for 10 seasons, but missed 3 due to injury. Buck was out for all of 2002, 2004 and 2005. When he didn’t suffer a major injury, Buck was pretty durable. He only missed 9 games in seasons in which he did take the field. That’s pretty impressive for a RB who had good size and ran between the tackles more than a few times.

It would really be interesting to see what kind of an affect Buck had on the Super Bowl team of 2004. With him out, Dorsey Levens was the key backup. Levens and Westbrook combined for 271 carries, a total that is incredibly low when you consider that the team had big leads in almost half the games during the season.

Buck’s presence might have made Andy Reid a bit more willing to run. Not too much, but more than the team did. And the inability to run the ball hurt that team in the Super Bowl in a big way. Levens only got one touch. Maybe Buck would have been mixed into the gameplan a bit more.

* In the last 5 years he was an Eagle, Randall Cunningham won a total of just 23 games. That was due to injuries, inconsistency and ineptitude.

* As much fun as the spread offense is, I do miss the days of having a Fullback. I loved watching Kevin Turner as a lead blocker. He was also a really good receiver. Jon Ritchie wasn’t here long, but was another terrific FB. Leonard Weaver wasn’t as good of a blocker as those two, but he was a much better runner. It really is a shame that he suffered the devastating injury in 2010. It would have been fun to see more of him.

* Every time I hear/read about concussion issues, I think about Jason Short. He is one of the most fearless, aggressive football players I have ever seen. He was reckless with his body. It was fun to watch, most of the time. There were a few moments even back then when you wondered if he understood he was a human. I hope Jason is doing okay in his post-football life.

* The Eagles drafted a pair of O-linemen in the 1st round who didn’t really like football all that much (Bernard Williams and Danny Watkins). This better never happen again. Ever.

* How freaky good was Nick Foles last year? He finished with a QB rating of 119.2. In Randall Cunningham’s final  year with the Eagles he didn’t come within 55 points of that (61.5). The year before, when RC started 14 games and had some great moments, he didn’t come within 40 points (74.4). QB play was very different back then so you wouldn’t expect him to be close, but not coming within 40 or 50 points is kinda crazy.

* Foles started 6 games in 2012 and then 10 last year when he put up the gaudy numbers. Earl Wolff started 6 games as a rookie last year. For him to have an equivalent type of season as Foles, Wolff would need to pick off 12 passes this year. That would tie him for the 3rd most in NFL history in a season. Foles just had the 3rd highest QB rating in NFL history. I realize that QB rating and total INTs are different types of stats, but you should get the overall point.

* 2 players who played SAM for the Eagles are Bill Romanowski and Dhani Jones. Could there be more polar opposite people on the planet?

* I would love to give Chip Kelly some truth serum and ask about Damaris Johnson. Is he just not that good? Does Chip hate his size? Why are we keeping him around? I thought Johnson could thrive in this offense and had good expectations for him last year. Boy was I wrong. But Johnson is still here, which would lead you to believe Kelly thinks he has some value.

* Speaking of Kelly…you know he loves football coaches and the history of the game. You wonder what he would say if he had a 1-on-1 meeting with Rich Kotite.

“So coach, tell me what it was like to get to work with Randall. That must have been good and bad.”

“Chip, he was the most gifted player you can imagine, but he had no work ethic and didn’t listen. He made me look like a genius when things worked, but he drove me crazy all the time. So much wasted potential.”

“I know. It still boggles my mind that you benched him for Bubby Brister.”

“Yeah, Bubby had some talent, but wasn’t anywhere close to Randall. At least Bubby was reliable and would listen. It had to be done.”

“I hear ya coach…but Bubby Brister?”

“He was more talented that people remember.”

“I guess. But why was he on your team in the first place?”

“Listen, Chip…you may think you’ve got all the answers, but I had tougher circumstances than you.”

“Yeah, it must have been tough coaching Reggie White, Seth Joyner and Byron Evans.”

“Watch it, newboy. And let’s remember which one of us beat the Saints in the playoffs. And that was a road game.”

“Anybody could beat Bobby friggin’ Hebert. I lost to Drew Brees.”

“Talk to me when you win a playoff game.”

“I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t I talk to you after I win a few playoff games and maybe even a title.”

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Dion Jordan Update

Posted: July 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 21 Comments »

There was a lot of talk about the Eagles trading for DE/OLB Dion Jordan this offseason. The Dolphins decided to keep him around to see if he can be the star they drafted him to be. Today we found out there is a bit of a bump in the road.

Jordan claims he took a banned stimulant. Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m sure some Eagles fans will have this reaction.

That’d be nice, but I don’t think the Dolphins are going to give up on the kid that easily.

What does make this story a bit interesting is the Chip Kelly connection. Under Kelly’s watch, a pair of Eagles have tested positive for PEDs. Now one of his former star pupils has tested positive. A lot of people thought Jordan was going to be an Eagle back in April 2013, but the Dolphins pulled a shocker and traded up for him.

I’m not ready to make anything of the connection between Kelly and the players at this point, but you have to point it out for the sake of honesty.

Beyond Kelly, there is one other connection. All 3 players are entering their second season. Are these just players who are pushing themselves and looking for any advantage? Are they young players who don’t know how to keep from getting caught? We’d be naive not to think that other players weren’t taking some questionable substances.

Let’s go back to Kelly for a second.

He had some players get in trouble up at Oregon. Kelly didn’t coddle them. After RB LeGarrette Blount got into a fight in the opening game of 2009, he was suspended for most of the season. LB Kiko Alonso was suspended for the entire 2010 season and almost kicked off the team at a later point. Starting QB Jeremiah Masoli was suspended for the entire 2010 season. He got arrested again and was then dismissed from the team.

You’d rather the kids not get into trouble at all, but Kelly was willing to punish them.

* * * * *

Tim McManus wrote an interesting piece on Evan Mathis and a potential holdout.

Mathis showed up for the offseason conditioning program and did not allow the business end  to affect his performance this spring. But that doesn’t mean that the financial matter has been resolved.

The 32-year-old signed a five-year, $25 million contract in March of 2012 that included $6 million in guarantees. Three years remain on the deal and all of the guaranteed cash is gone.

Mathis has started 47 of a possible 48 games since joining the Eagles in 2011. He has played at a high level during his time in Philly and this past season was named First-Team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

His 2014 salary of $5.15 million is seventh among guards according to spotrac. Mathis’ guaranteed money, though, pales in comparison to some of his peers. Tampa’s Carl Nicks, for instance, has $25 million in guarantees; Logan Mankins $21.5 million; Andy Levitre of the Titans has $13 million; Jahri Evans of the Saints gets $12 million; and so on. Meanwhile, line mates Jason Peters ($15.75 million guaranteed)  and Jason Kelce ($13 million guaranteed) were just taken care of.

The Eagles are probably hesitant to rip up a contract that was signed just two years ago. Mathis wants to be paid fair-market value. And so here we stand.

The 10-year vet isn’t one to make waves. Then again, holding out is one of the few tools a player has to try and apply pressure on the employer. As it so happens, his leverage is arguably increased in this scenario given the Johnson situation. They can’t afford to have further disturbances at the offensive line position, which was viewed as one of the primary strengths of this team. But that could be what they’re facing.

Evan’s situation is one of those that really makes it tough on Eagles fans. He is a very popular player and seems like a genuinely good guy. You want the best for him. At the same time, you don’t want him to disrupt the team with a holdout. Does he deserve more money? Maybe. He certainly is a very good player.

The tricky part of this is that the Eagles have to deal with 53 players. They can’t attempt to make every one of them happy. There just aren’t enough resources to pay every player what they think they are worth.

An added complication for Mathis is that he’s an older player and can’t expect to play out this deal and get another one. He needs to strike while the iron is hot, which is now.

One interesting angle to this is that Evan’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus. That named used to mean trouble (“Next question”), but in recent years Rosenhaus has gotten along very well with Howie Roseman and the Eagles. If there is a holdout, let’s at least hope that the situations is handled amicably. It is much easier to find common ground and come to a solution in those circumstances than when you have a 2005 type of situation.

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